Irish low-fares airline Ryanair has announced its plans to open a new base at Belfast International Airport, starting in March, with one based aircraft and a four times daily service to London Gatwick.
The base will expand to three aircraft with five more new routes to follow starting October 2016. With the expansion, the airline will operate 28 weekly flights, deliver over 1 million new customers p.a. and support 750 ‘on-site’ jobs at Belfast International Airport. To celebrate the opening of the new Belfast International base, the airline has announced over 100,000 seats on sale at prices from £9.99 for travel in March, April and May, which must be booked latest today (January 11).
In Belfast, Ryanair’s David O’Brien said: ‘Ryanair is pleased to open a new base at Belfast International Airport from March, as we invest $300m, in 3 based aircraft, and a high frequency daily route to London Gatwick, and 5 other new routes from October 2016, which will deliver over 1m customers p.a. at Belfast International Airport and support 750 jobs.
‘Our 4 x daily Belfast – Gatwick service will be ideal for both business and leisure customers and we look forward to growing routes, traffic, jobs and tourism in Belfast in the coming months and years. Our customers can look forward to further improvements in the coming months, including our personalised website, with exciting new digital features such as real customer destination reviews, under our ‘Always Getting Better’ programme, as we continue to offer so much more than just the lowest fares.’
Graham Keddie, MD of Belfast International Airport said: ‘This is a significant and far-reaching announcement by Ryanair. The Gatwick slots given up by Aer Lingus as part of the IAG takeover, are being safeguarded and used for the benefit of Northern Ireland. Gatwick is growing in popularity, and it was crucial to retain them.
‘In addition, the promise of three based aircraft and 5 more new routes to be announced later in the year increases Northern Ireland’s ‘reach’ and gives Belfast International a competitive edge. This very positive news is the equivalent of a major inward investment without the strain on public finances. It will deliver thousands of new visitors and hundreds of welcome new jobs. Despite the damaging Air Passenger Duty (APD), this announcement shows Belfast International can defy the odds. Just imagine what we could achieve if the ‘yoke’ of APD were removed (as it has been in the Republic of Ireland)?’